Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Trains, Ships and Transportation Nerdisms: A guest post by author Chris Ward!

Hello readers! Chris Ward is here today, and he has the added special award of being my 1000th post! Huzzah!

In case you missed it, I reviewed his book The Tube Riders over the weekend. In a word? UNIQUE. This is a book that will pull you out of your reading slump, and draw you in. Mega Britain is an amazing setting. The characters are well drawn out. It's just wonderful to read!

Beneath the dark streets of London they played a dangerous game with trains. Now it is their only chance for survival...

Mega Britain in 2075 is a dangerous place. A man known as the Governor rules the country with an iron hand, but within the towering perimeter walls of London Greater Urban Area anarchy spreads unchecked through the streets.

In the abandoned London Underground station of St. Cannerwells, a group of misfits calling themselves the Tube Riders seek to forget the chaos by playing a dangerous game with trains. Marta is their leader, a girl haunted by her brother’s disappearance. Of the others, Paul lives only to protect his little brother Owen, while Simon is trying to hold on to his relationship with Jess, daughter of a government official. Guarding them all is Switch, a man with a flickering eye and a faster knife, who cares only about preserving the legacy of the Tube Riders. Together, they are family.

Everything changes the day they are attacked by a rival gang. While escaping, they witness an event that could bring war down on Mega Britain. Suddenly they are fleeing for their lives, pursued not only by their rivals, but by the brutal Department of Civil Affairs, government killing machines known as Huntsmen, and finally by the inhuman Governor himself.

Chris is here today to share a little bit about how he decided on writing his book, and also to share a copy with you wonderful people! So read on, and comment away. Leave some love.


On Trains, Ships, and Transportation Nerdisms 

Back in 2008, I had just finished writing a comedy novel about a group of students and decided I wanted to try something a little different for my next literary adventure. I hunted through my old short stories looking for something interesting and found a story about a group of kids that hung off the sides of trains for fun. After a session of brainstorming, Tube Riders the novel was pretty much mapped out. 

I wanted to try to be original and thought I had a unique concept in tube riding, something I had never seen done before. Central to tube riding, of course, are the London Underground trains which Marta, Switch and the others like to hang from. As the novel developed, however, I realised it would be easy for the initial thread of tube riding to be pushed aside in favor of a more conventional chase novel, taking away the novel’s originality. Therefore, I made a great effort to involve as many trains in the novel as I could. And from this I found myself trying to see how many different types of transportation I could fit into the book. 

Apart of the trains, of course, you have cars, taxis, buses, John Reeder’s barge, a tractor, and the spaceship Paul sees crashing early on in the novel (whether any of the Tube Riders will end up on one of those spaceships later on in the series, I’m yet to decide …). Some of these were added subconsciously, others for my own amusement. It has since become a challenge to see what forms of transport I can fit into the second book in the series. At the moment I’d dead set on having a hot air balloon or at least an airship, while I’m also hoping to have some kind of cable car in there. None of these ideas have yet gone past the drawing board, however. 

While of course a writer’s aim is to entertain, the first person a writer has to entertain is his or herself, otherwise nothing gets written. During the writing of Tube Riders I developed an almost anorak love for trains, and no doubt further books will draw out all sorts of strange transport-based obsessions. Incidentally, I wrote this post during a break from a new short story I’m writing about a boy obsessed with merchant ships. The largest ship ever built was a super tanker called the Seawise Giant, so big at 458m long it couldn’t navigate the English Channel because of its fully laden “draft” (the depth a ship’s hull sinks below the water’s surface) which was just over 24m. Can you imagine that? What a monster. Is there any way I could possibly fit a super tanker into the Tube Riders series? You can guarantee I’ll do my best.


Thank you Chris!

Now a giveaway! Up for grabs is a digital copy of The Tube Riders. Be advised that this does have some adult language and violence. It is an amazing read though!

Giveaway is open everywhere and will end July 5, 2012. Good luck!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: Heirs of Prophecy

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Heirs of Prophecy
   *Series: Prophecies Series #1
Author: Michael A. Rothman
Publisher: M&S Publishing L.L.C.
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Middle Grade / Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Middle grade readers, or lower YA readers, who enjoy an adventurous fantasy story.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
The Riverton family had been enjoying a simple summer vacation when, through a fluke of nature, they found themselves in a strange new land. The Riverton brothers quickly realize that in this world, they have gained unusual powers. Powers that their parents fear will attract the attention of Azazel himself - the merciless wizard who brutally controls this world. The two brothers soon learn that an ancient prophecy has finally been initiated by their arrival in Trimoria. As the heirs of this prophecy, they are destined to lead the armies of men, dwarves, elves, and even a misfit ogre against the prophesied demon horde. Only one thing stands in their way. The evil wizard who has learned of their presence, and has sent assassins to wipe them from existence.
I picked up Heirs of Prophecy on a whim one day, and two hours later I was done with the book. Let me say, before anything else, that Michael A. Rothman can most definitely tell a story! The Riverton family is one of the sweetest groups of people that I've ever met. Aaron, Ryan and their parents face a lot in this book, but they deal with it as a family. If you're looking for a wholesome read that will still draw in your young reader, this is it!

Aaron and Ryan are definitely great protagonists. They each have their own distinct personalities, but at the same time play off one another beautifully. Their banter made me giggle, a lot. Rothman makes sure to show the story from both boys' points of view. It's so much fun to see them grow into their powers, and try to uncover why they are so special in the first place. These boys are true to the age that they are. Underneath the bickering, and the occasional jealousy, they love one another a lot. When things get right down to it, they'll be there to support one another. Thank you so much Mr. Rothman, for writing believable young people. It made me smile.

In terms of plot line, the story moves at a great pace. There is always just enough action to keep things moving along smoothly. My one complaint, and this is likely because I'm an older reader, was that I really wanted more of Trimoria itself. I'm a big fantasy reader. I love sweeping worlds and descriptive writing. There was a lot of that here, but not enough to really draw me into the world that Aaron and Ryan were exploring. Again, I'm sure it has a lot to do with the reader base this book is aimed at. It didn't detract that much from my enjoyment of the overall story. This family definitely steals the show anyhow!

At the end of the day I truly enjoyed reading Heirs of Prophecy. I'm so glad to finally see a fantasy book that is tailored to middle grade readers, and yet still completely holds the attention of older readers too. The Riverton family has a special place in my heart now and I cannot wait to see more of them! Wherever these young boys go next, I'll be there.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Take home a copy of GIFTED!

Yesterday you might have seen Liz Long here on the blog, promoting her book Gifted. If you didn't you can go and read her awesome guest post! Trust me, it's worth your time. If you ever wanted to see inside an author's brain, her post definitely captures that :).

As a follow up, Liz would like to offer up a giveaway! So, away we go!

Up for grabs is one Kindle copy of Gifted: A Donovan Circus Novel, just for you!
(Remember, if you don't have a Kindle, you can still read this on one of their many wonderful apps!)

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to everyone, and will end on July 3, 2012. Good luck!

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Five Things I Love! by Liz Long

Looking for your next read? Let me help! Liz Long is here today, and her book Gifted is in the spotlight. A book about a girl who can control fire and the setting is a circus? You have my attention! Take a look!

Even in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.

Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.

When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.
Liz was kind enough to write up a great guest post for you all! I love this one, and actually I found myself nodding at a lot of it too. It's so much fun to see inside the minds of an author. So without further ado, take it away Liz!


Five Things I Love!

Hi readers! My name is Liz Long and I’m an indie author. My debut title, Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel, is first and foremost a fantasy action adventure, but I like to think there’s some fun stuff in there, whether it’s a party scene or just dialogue between characters. But since I always write about things related to my book on my blog, I thought for Jessica’s readers, I’d do a big list! (Lists are my favorite thing to make. My favorite thing to do is scratch off what I’ve done!)

My list today is a little random. It’s 5 of my favorite things, even in a broad general sense.

1. Superhero movies

My husband went on a bachelor party weekend trip and all I did was watch Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. I love superheroes (which you can probably tell at any given point in a conversation with me, ‘cause I make a lot of references). Superheroes are fun and almost always have a really interesting reason behind why they do things. I love watching characters evolve into who they’re meant to be. Even better is when they retain who they are despite their newfound persona, like Tony Stark—he might be a self-centered jerk who loves to stroke his own ego, but he’d never let stand by while villains overtook his world.

2. Chapstick

I’m totally obsessed with chapstick, especially Burt’s Bees. Have you ever tried that grapefruit Burt’s Bees chapstick? Unbelievable.

3. Books (specifically Fantasy)

This one’s a gimme seeing as how I’m writing for a book blog, but you get the idea (like any writer’s favorites list doesn’t include books!). I’m currently reading the Song of Fire and Ice series (halfway through the first book, Game of Thrones). I love fantasy books. Don’t get me wrong, I like fiction with everyday humans, too, but there’s something about getting whisked away to another world with fantastical creatures and unbelievable powers. The Harry Potter series is my all-time favorite because of the small details. I have yet to try my hand at a non-fantasy story and while I don’t want to put myself in a corner, I just don’t know if I’d want to—it’s always more fun to invent new things that can’t be found in our reality!

4. Animals

When I was a small child, my parents raised sheepdogs. They were always adopted into good families either as show dogs or just beloved pets. At one point, we had close to twenty dogs (we had our own version of farm and acres of land). I was delivering puppies at age 5 and I’ve been in love with animals ever since, especially dogs. I donate to the dog shelters, adopted 2 pound puppies, and that Sarah McLachlan commercial always ruins my day.

5. Photography

After college and before I decided to get serious about writing, I found love in photography. My best friend and I ran our own small photography business, too, taking photos for friends and family, even for local magazines and ads. It’s still something fun I like to do as a hobby, though I rarely find time nowadays, unfortunately. My dog Fisher, however, is thrilled I’m no longer constantly in his face with a lens.


Liz Long has been writing stories since she could spell the word "unicorn" (second grade). She fears a zombie apocalypse, though admits it would give her good reason to stay inside and write more. She is a proud graduate of Longwood University with a degree in English. Gifted is her debut title, the first in the Donovan Circus series. She lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Jason and their Jack Russell terror, Fisher.

To learn more about Liz, visit her website:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: The Tube Riders

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Tube Riders
Author: Chris Ward
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 516
Release Date: March 19, 2012
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence; Adult Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a fast-paced story with great characters. Must also be okay with adult language, and some violence in their reads.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon
Beneath the dark streets of London they played a dangerous game with trains. Now it is their only chance for survival...

Mega Britain in 2075 is a dangerous place. A man known as the Governor rules the country with an iron hand, but within the towering perimeter walls of London Greater Urban Area anarchy spreads unchecked through the streets.

In the abandoned London Underground station of St. Cannerwells, a group of misfits calling themselves the Tube Riders seek to forget the chaos by playing a dangerous game with trains. Marta is their leader, a girl haunted by her brother’s disappearance. Of the others, Paul lives only to protect his little brother Owen, while Simon is trying to hold on to his relationship with Jess, daughter of a government official. Guarding them all is Switch, a man with a flickering eye and a faster knife, who cares only about preserving the legacy of the Tube Riders. Together, they are family.

Everything changes the day they are attacked by a rival gang. While escaping, they witness an event that could bring war down on Mega Britain. Suddenly they are fleeing for their lives, pursued not only by their rivals, but by the brutal Department of Civil Affairs, government killing machines known as Huntsmen, and finally by the inhuman Governor himself.

When I first came upon The Tube Riders, it caught my attention with the originality of the premise. Here is a world that is cut off, harshly governed, and mysterious as all get out. Add in a set of characters who are willing to put their lives at risk for a little bit of a rush, and you have my attention. I don't think I would have ever thought of riding on trains as a way to unwind. For these characters though? That's reality. It's fabulous!

More than anything else, I instantly fell in love with the characters in this book. Marta, Paul, Switch and Simon are all intriguing in their own right. They are all the family that each other have, even when things get crazy. If I had to choose some favorites, I'd go with Marta and Switch. Marta is a no-nonsense kind of girl who does whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Switch is a little off sometimes, but loyal as they come and deadly to his enemies. This group is so diverse that you'd think they'd argue, and sometimes they do, but they play off one another wonderfully. Above everything, I loved seeing how they survived.

The world that Chris Ward builds here is fantastic in its own right though. Mega Britain is an insane world that uses militant rule to keep people down. There is poverty, violence in the form of daily riots, and so many secrets that it'll make your head spin. When the Tube Riders uncover a sinister plot by accident, it sets in motion a series of events that will have you holding on for dear life as you read. These poor characters never really have a moment to rest. Running from the authorities, being hunted by half animal, half human creatures, and trying to just stay alive. It kind of puts the high that they used to get from riding trains in perspective.

If there was one thing that was tough for me, it was just the length of the book overall. That's not to say that it doesn't maintain a pretty steady stream of action. More that I felt there were some descriptions, and some events, that probably could have been left out and still made for a intriguing story line. Parts of the story just felt a little over written. Totally my opinion! It might be different for other readers. It obviously didn't stop me from reading all 500+ pages of this book. Rightfully so, because the ending was awesome!

Let's just say that if you're looking for something original and exciting to read, this is for you! Chris Ward once again proves that self-published works can be just as amazing (if not more so) than traditionally published ones. I am extremely glad that I picked up The Tube Riders and I so hope that there is more. Now that I've been immersed in the world of the the Tube Riders, I'm not willing to leave yet.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: Dead Beautiful

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Melanie Dugan
Publisher: Upstart Press
Pages: Paperback; 165
Release Date: May 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Language; Sexual Language
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Lovers of Greek mythology, and especially those who enjoy a good twist on what they already know.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon
Dead Beautiful is a contemporary retelling of the classic Greek myth of Persephone. This was the myth the Greeks used to explain how we came to have the change of seasons. In the traditional version of the myth, Persephone – the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of agriculture and fertility, and Zeus, the top god on Olympus – is abducted one day by Hades, God of the Underworld (which is also called Hades).

Demeter refuses to do her job until her daughter is returned to her, and the earth is plunged into the first winter: no crops grow, cold settles on the earth. It turns out that while in Hades, Persephone has eaten six pomegranate seeds. As a result, for six months of the year, she must live with Hades; this is when it is fall and winter on earth. For six months she lives with her mother – then we have spring and summer.

Dead Beautiful asks, what if Persephone, like many adolescent girls, didn’t tell her mother the whole truth? What if Hades didn’t abduct her? What if she made the decision to go with him? (She is, after all, 18 millennia old.)

The result is a novel that examines the complex dynamics between mothers and daughters, and explores the challenges faced by young women as they move from childhood into adulthood and independence. It is smart, fast-paced, funny and profound; a book that will appeal to women young and old, to mothers and daughters.

Melanie Dugan's Dead Beautiful is a fresh take on a Greek myth that we all know and love. Mythology tells us that Persephone was conned into spending half the year with Hades, and thus the seasons were born. What if that wasn't the case though? What if, instead, Persephone went willingly to her new part-time home. Dugan's book explores the possibility that perhaps, rather than stealing her soul, Hades actually stole Persephone's heart.

Dead Beautiful is unique in that it is told in very short bursts. Each chapter is essentially a miniature interview with a different god or goddess who is related somehow to Persephone. Dugan' sets up a world where the gods are the head honchos. They are responsible to keep the earth running smoothly and, wouldn't you know it, some of them are just overworked. Who has time to pay attention to flighty teenagers (18 millennia is rather young) when you've got a whole world to run? This is the perfect set up for Persephone and Hades to build their story, and it works really well as a whole.

The one downside to telling the story this way is that it is all dialogue. Settings, events, and everything in between are built entirely through the words of the different entities being interviewed. In some cases, like for Persphone and Hades, this works great! These two have very distinct voices. Especially Persephone, as she's portrayed as the petulant teen most of the time. For others though, it gets really difficult to figure out who is speaking. If you're not a fan of reading the title of each chapter to know who is going to be telling the story, this might drive you crazy. Fair warning! What I loved most of all though was the new take on the relationship between Persephone and Hades. Who knew that Hades was actually such a sweet guy? Dead Beautiful shows that sometimes things are misconstrued. 

As a whole this book is definitely a different, but intriguing, way of reworking mythology that has been around for centuries. Let's be honest, readers who are purists are most likely not going to like what Dugan has done with the myth. However if you're willing to go in as a blank slate, I think you'll find something to enjoy in Dead Beautiful. From Persephone's  ranting, to Hades' scheming, there truly is a brand new story here to fall for.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Language
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Everyone!

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

If you're looking for a sweet and genuinely funny read, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is just the ticket! Seriously, I'm kicking myself for not getting to this sooner. It has stolen my heart!  Kelsey Finkelstein wants nothing more than to make a mark in her new high school. You know, stand out. What she doesn't realize, is that she'll stand out alright! Just not in the way she was hoping. I loved traveling with Kelsey as she navigated the horrors of high school, complete with evil older girls and unbelievably hot guys. This book was just too cute for words!

Kelsey, Cassidy, JoJo and Em are just so much fun! They really took me back to my high school days. Here is a group of girls who do literally everything together. Kelsey especially stole my heart, and who can blame her? She's funny, sarcastic, and absolutely hilarious! I loved the way that she always seemed to be able to take everything in stride. Sure, there are points where she overreacts just like any normal teen. Still, she always managed to see the lighter side (and cause me to laugh) and things were off and running again. I adore this girl!

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is the prefect mix of light-hearted reading and real teen issues. Zeitlin shows that girls Kelsey's age are faced with a lot of issues, but that they still have the power to make good decisions. Kelsey and her friends do drink and party in this book, although they do it in a mostly responsible way. Once in a while they do make the wrong choice in a situation, but they always learn from it and move on. Honestly, Kelsey reminds readers that high school isn't the easiest place to be. However with the right head on your shoulders, and the help of some great friends, it's totally do-able!

Add in the craziest (and cutest) build up to a relationship that I've ever seen, and you have a book that just blew me away. I absolutely loved Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters and I know that you will too! Go get yourself a copy and dive in. You won't regret it!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review: Intangible

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Intangible
   *Series: Intangible #1
Author: J. Meyers
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 264
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of note.
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Everyone, especially those who enjoy a good mixture of elements in their story.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.
Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.

Before anything else, let me profess my love for the characters in this story. I'm a very character driven person, and J. Meyers writes some great ones in Intangible. Sera and Luke are awesome main characters and genuinely act like teenagers. Go figure, right? Luke was probably my favorite character! Extremely caring, he has a great sense of humor and is as selfless as they come. Even when a curve ball is thrown his way in the story he takes it with the utmost grace. It's honestly hard not to fall in love with him. Sera holds her own too though. She exudes friendliness, and kindness.

Although Sera and Luke pretty much steal the show, there are also a few other great characters in the story. Jonas, for example, a 200-year old vampire vampire and former slave. His personality really comes through in the story, and a lot of his history is revealed as you read. I actually hope to see more of him later on in the series. Fey and Quinn, Sera and Luke's friends, are also present here. They don't get quite as much face time as Jonas, but they are great in their own right. 

Plot wise, the book flows beautifully. Not too fast or slow, J. Meyers allows readers to pick up just enough clues to slowly put together the bigger picture. What I enjoyed most was that every time I had a question, it was answered a few pages afterwards. It's almost like Meyers could see inside my head. Like she knew what I wanted to know more about. The ending was a bit hurried, but it wraps up with just enough of a cliffhanger to make you want to keep reading the series.

Favorite thing about Intangible? Hands down, the fact that it mashes together so many different mythologies. Whether you like vampires, elves or gifted humans, you'll find something to love in this book. Add in a secret realm and a lost prophecy, and you have a book that is a quick read! From page one I was immersed in the story. Unique and beautiful, Intangible is definitely a book to add to your reading list.

Ms. K did the reading.
Jessica wrote the review.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Interview with Anne Tibbets and a giveaway!

A treat for you all today! Anne Tibbets is here! *cheers*

In case you missed it, I reviewed her book Shut Up last week. This is a story that is a must-read for all teens and probably even adults. Mary's story is hard to read, but it's well worth your time.
Mary's older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life. Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she's also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up.

Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding. Her parents are freaking out, and to top it off The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport.

Despite her brother's advice to shut up, Mary can't keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.

Mary doesn't know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected. When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.

Seriously, you need to read this book. Click the book cover to add it to your Goodreads TBR. Then, read and enjoy the interview below! Plus make sure you get to the bottom. There's a lovely little giveaway waiting for you there, courtesy of Anne herself. Make sure to thank her ;).

1) Shut Up is a very realistic and tough read. What message would you like to give to readers who are thinking about adding it to their TBR pile?
A: My first message would be: "Please! And tell your friends!" Ha!
Honestly, I truly believe a book like this should be required reading for every pre-teen and teen alive, and not because I wrote it, but because of the message that's in it. Like Go Ask Alice, Shut Up is raw and real, and has plenty of material that everyone will take away something different. So, other than "Please" I'd also like to add, "Take what you will."

2) At the end you mention that Mary's experiences are based on some of your own. Was it hard for you to write this story?
A: I'm not going to lie, the first draft was cathartic, the eight drafts that followed were pure torture. I wrote this book on and off for three years simply because I couldn't handle the bleak aspects of the story for long periods of time without feeling depressed myself. I began to transfer feelings I had for the characters onto the family members they were based on - and trust me on that, that isn't healthy - especially since the characters took on lives of their own and little resembled their true-to-life counterparts as each draft progressed. A writer friend of mine was so taken with how detailed the emotion was in the book, she encouraged me to take another painful period of my life and write a book about it - but to be perfectly frank, I'm not sure I could stomach it. Not yet, anyway. It was absolute, pure, emotional torture.

3) Mary, Rose, Paul and Gwen are all such vivid characters. Do you have a favorite character from either this book or your other books?A: I don't know if I have a "favorite." That's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. I just can't do it. But since Mary is based on me as a kid, she definitely holds a special place in my heart slightly above all the rest.

4) Now for some fun questions! If you could have dinner with anyone at all, living or dead, who would you choose?A: This is impossible to answer! I only get one answer? If I only get one, I'd love to sit down to have tea with Jane Austen. She had a sharp wit, and a keen eye for societal hypocrisy and I would love to sit and talk to her about it, though, she would probably think me quite simple and base.

5) You have to choose only one color food to eat for the rest of your life. What color do you choose?A: Green, I suppose. I wanted to say red because I love steak and can't imagine a life without it, but I'd die of a heart attack after a month. So, green. Lettuce, spinach, broccoli. Wait - am I allowed to use butter and salt? :)

And now, it's giveaway time!!!

Up for grabs is a prize pack with a signed copy of Shut Up and a signed bookmark to go with it! Thanks Anne! You're awesome!

This is open to the U.S. and Canada. I'll choose a winner on June 25, 2012. Enter via Rafflecopter below and good luck!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Confessions of a Sneaky Book Writer: A guest post by Jade Varden

Today I'm pleased to welcome Jade Varden to the blog!  She is the author of  The Deck of Lies series, that starts with the book Justice. I have it on my TBR list for July and I'll make sure to report back on how awesome it is!

A House of Cards...

When you build an entire life on a foundation of lies, it only takes one truth for the whole thing to come crashing down. I never invited the truth in. I never went searching for it. I never had any reason to suspect that the two people I loved most were dishonest with me every second of every day.

I made one bad decision, and in a single day my entire world changed. If I'm ever going to discover the truth about myself and my parents, I have to trace all the lies back to their source. I have to try to find the truth that they're hiding.

The more I discover about myself, and my past, the more I realize that lies really are better than the truth. But now that I know the lies are all around me, I can't stop until I've discovered them all. I'll pull each lie away, one by one, and examine it to see what's underneath…until this house of cards crumbles into dust at my feet.

I just hope I can survive the crash.

And now...I give the floor over to Jade! 


Confessions of a Sneaky Book Writer 
By Jade Varden

I confess, I make a lot of obscure references in my books to certain movies, other books, music and designers. But there’s a method to the name-dropping madness, which I’ve never revealed before now. I like to sneak my favorite things into the books I write not just because I like them, but because they’re clues.

It helps that I write mystery novels; I’m expected to include clues. The trouble is, many of them are so vague that no one could ever hope to recognize them but me. But if you recognize certain books and movies I mention in my writing, you might just figure out the mystery early…or at least, you might be able to predict where the story is going.

For example, I specifically mention Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, in my book Justice (Deck of Lies, #1). Personally, the book holds special meaning for me, as it does for my main character Rain. But the book is also about a girl who leaves one world and goes to another, where everything feels very strange and new. Justice has a very similar theme. Is there a clue in Wonderland somewhere that hints at where the series is going? I can’t reveal that yet!

I mention several books in The Tower (Deck of Lies, #2) that also hint at specific themes in the story, and one of my characters directly mentions what two of those books are about. There’s a definite clue there that hints at the future of the two characters who are talking about the books. I’ve put several clues in my upcoming book Death (Deck of Lies, #3) by using movies. Each movie I mention in the book points at something specific, some of which hasn’t happened yet in the story.

Am I being sneaky? Only a little. Most of the books, movies and music I mention is stuff that I actually like, so in a way they’re also clues about who I am and what I enjoy. I’ve learned that most writers find ways to put themselves, at least parts of themselves, into the books they write. It’s my way to turn those pieces of me into clues for the story and some of the mini-mysteries inside of it, whichever story I happen to be writing at the time. It’s my way of adding a little extra mystery to all of my books.

About Jade: 

Jade Varden writes young adult novels for teen readers. When she’s not working on her books, Jade contributes freelance fashion articles to VAR magazine, and blogs practical writing tips for authors who self-publish. Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Caged Moon Giveaway

A quick update fabulous people!

Earlier this week I posted a review of Caged Moon by Rachel Deagan! If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, head on over. Fans of werewolf lore will love this one!

I did, however, forget to include the giveaway. So here it is now. One winner will take home a print copy of Caged Moon (US Only) and 5 additional winners will take home an ebook copy. So enter! Try this book out for yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Interview with Bill Cokas

Please give a warm bookish welcome to Bill Cokas! Bill is the author of Ring of Fire, a twisted mystery that has a lot of wit and heart. The synopsis is below! Make sure to click the book cover and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! 

Seeking refuge from a corporate scandal, Wally Gibbs trades his corner office in Chicago for a tweed jacket with elbow patches in a quaint college town. He soon realizes he wasn’t meant to teach marketing; he was meant to reinvent it. And the timing is right. To Wally’s perverse delight, the economy has brought consumers everywhere to their knees. In Wally’s own words, “people are so desperate to lop thirty cents off a cantaloupe, they’d give a urine sample at the checkout.” During a routine colonoscopy, he envisions a new hyper-efficient marketing vehicle, which he labels “Project Argus.”

As Wally ensnares his unsuspecting students in the beta test, Project Argus catches the attention of eight-fingered frustrated campus policeman Nick Pappas. Sensing a connection to an unsolved student death, Nick becomes obsessed with exposing the scheme, even “deputizing” student cartoonist Zak Dawson to do the digging he can’t. The pair follows Wally to a tiny Greek island, where he acquires a rare exotic gem that he smuggles back home and turns over to a local jeweler. Within a few days, the hottest-selling graduation ring in the school’s history is quietly collecting data—and claiming lives.

Bill is here today to share a little bit about himself in an author interview, and he was also kind enough to bring along a giveaway! Read on, and please make sure to leave a comment. You know we bloggers love comments and authors do too!

1) Who, or what, would you say is your biggest inspiration? 
It's funny, because while I've been a reader all my life, I used to think of myself as an artist first and a writer second. After college, I realized that cartooning wasn't going to pay the bills, so I changed gears and focused more on the words vs. the pictures and pursued a career in advertising. Even as a writer, I have been influenced by artists from all genres: the picture books of Jack Kent and Harry and Wende Devlin, through the youth fiction of Mary Rogers, Scott Corbett and Donald Sobol (anyone remember thoseguys?) to "adult" writers like Stephen King, James Lee Burke and especially Carl Hiaasen, who proved to me you can make a point and still be funny doing it.

2) I read on your website that you wrote commericals! How did that add to your career as a writer?
Advertising is all about reflecting popular culture, so it's imperative that one stay current on trends, slang and attitudes, which are changing on a daily basis. More importantly, writing for short attention spans (as in a 30-second commercial) really forced me to bring more discipline to my writing and weed out the extraneous. If a sentence doesn't reveal character or move the plot forward, you really have to question its place in the story.

3) If you could meet any one of your idols, who would you choose?
Charles Schulz. And I almost did--while in Santa Rosa for work years ago, I walked through his ice skating rink hoping to catch him in the coffee shop. When I didn't, I walked next door to his studio and peered in the sidelight. Alas, it was a weekend, and the place was dark, but I'm convinced I would have knocked if he had been there. To me, he will always be the master of combining words, pictures and delicate emotions in the most efficient and memorable way possible.

4) Ring of Fire is being made into a movie. What does the tagline on the movie poster say?
That's easy, because I wrote a tagline for the book cover: "You'll be a customer for life--if you survive." Ring of Fire is about a new marketing technique that throws privacy out the window in exchange for brand loyalty. Along the way, however, people are being paired up with products that they have no business using, and that seals their fate.

5) Where do you see yourself in five years?
If things keep moving along at this rate, I predict I'll have another few books on the market (I'm working on a middle grade adventure now, but have ideas for more humorous suspense novels for an adult audience) while still helping my clients in central North Carolina differentiate their products and services from the competition. The lessons I'm learning on behalf of my clients come into play regularly as I try to establish my own "brand" as an author. Hopefully it's a brand with staying power.

A huge thank you to Bill for agreeing to be on my blog! Now, it's giveaway time! 

Up for grabs are digital copies of both Ring of Fire and Bill's simultaenously published Battle Axe. One winner will take home both. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below! A winner will be chosen on June 21, 2012.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: Caged Moon

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Caged Moon
   *Series: Caged Moon #1
Author: Rachel Deagan
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 250
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Source: Autumn Review Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of note
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good twist in their paranormal romance.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Haunted by an animal attack, seventeen year old Charlotte feels she is being followed. When she runs into a mysterious boy while camping, she’s afraid. Nothing seems right about him. Despite trying to stay away, there is an unmistakable draw to be near him. Even his scent smells familiar. But the closer she gets, the faster the secrets begin to unravel. Not only is he not human, he may have a link to her past. When Charlotte finds out someone wants her dead, she is torn between love and fear. Can she trust him to keep her safe?

I'm not generally a werewolf fan (I'm more in the vampire camp myself) but I knew I wanted to read Rachel Deagan's Caged Moon as soon as I noticed the mystery aspect. Werewolves and mystery? I'm in. I'll admit that I was already fairly certain that Charlotte herself was somehow related to the wolves. I mean, after all, it does kind of mention it in the synopsis. That's not to say I was entirely right, but let's just say that a lot of what I thought would happen? Did. Still, this book is extremely addictive. You've been warned. If you are going to read this, set aside time to finish it from cover to cover.

Charlotte was an okay main character. I did like that she didn't just blindly accept everything that was thrown her way. Instead, she is the type of character who questions, mulls things over with friends, and then finally makes a decision. In a word, smart. However she kind of walked the line between that and being a bit naive at times. There were points when I just sighed out loud. I understand that this was Charlotte's way of sharing her thoughts with the reader. At times it just got to be too much for me.

Liam was a much more engaging character in my eyes. Charming, sweet, and just a bit mysterious. Although his story wasn't too hard to uncover, I did enjoy the way that Rachel Deagan allowed him his own unique personality. He is a great companion to Charlotte! I would have actually liked to get to know him a little more. I'm hoping that in the second book there will be more of his back story. The insta-love between Charlotte and Liam was the one thing that was a bit off. I chalked it up to their wolfish natures though, and that made it a little more palpable.

All in all I thought that Caged Moon was a pretty great read. It had its issues, but there were some fabulous parts too. Rachel Deagan manages to mix mystery, romance and the paranormal all into this story. While it wasn't a favorite for me, I'm sure that big fans of this genre will fall in love. There is a lot to enjoy. If you are a werewolf lover, give this one a shot. Liam is well worth it!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Shut Up

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Shut Up
Author: Anne Tibbets
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 118
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence; Abuse; Adult Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers looking for a contemporary read that is extremely honest, and definitely heartwrenching.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Mary's older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life. Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she's also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up.

Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding. Her parents are freaking out, and to top it off The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport.

Despite her brother's advice to shut up, Mary can't keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.

Mary doesn't know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected. When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.

Let me tell you, going in to Shut Up I knew I was in for a pretty realistic read. What I didn't realize, was how vividly Anne Tibbets was going to share Mary's story. This is one of those books that is so raw, so real, that it hurts to read. However no matter how hard you try you just can't stop. Maybe it's morbid fascination, maybe it's concern for Mary, but either way you'll want to know how everything ends.

For Mary, life is about living in her sister's shadow. Still that isn't as easy as it sounds. For most adolescents, living in the shadow means being ignored. For Mary, it means being blamed for the sins of her older sister. Gwen is the type of character that makes you want to kick her. HARD. She is rude, selfish, and downright cruel to her younger sister. What broke my heart more than anything though was the way that the rest of Mary's family dealt with the stress. Here is a girl who is trying her best to just get by, but how can you stay positive when everything you say and do is always wrong?

What's most interesting about Mary's story is that her problems don't just stem from one location. There is nothing wrong with Mary. Sure, she might be a little bit lazy at times, or talk back, but what young person doesn't act like that at some point? Mary's problems come from outside sources. From the way her mother was raised, and now deals with stress. From the outside adults she tries to speak to that just don't comprehend what she is going through. Even from the possibility that she might somehow end up like her older sister. It isn't Mary who is the problem, but she is definitely the one who bears the brunt of it.

As an older reader, and one who has worked with kids for many years, I saw where Anne Tibbets was going with this story. She openly bears her soul through the use of Mary, and shows that being an adolescent can be a lot tougher than just wondering who will ask you to prom. This story is real. It's harsh. It's truth even within the fiction. There are kids out there who just need that one person who can read between the lines and see what they aren't saying out loud. Kids who are lost even when they look perfectly normal. Shut Up deals with child abuse, but it does it in a way that is a little more palatable than most. That's not to say that this is an easy read. Not by a long shot.

It did take me a little time to get through Shut Up, mostly because I was really hurting for poor Mary. However at the end of the day I feel better for having read it. Above all else, this story shows the power of the human spirit and the fact that sometimes, with the right help, things do get better. Despite a few minor issues, I really enjoyed this story. Readers who like a good contemporary, and are okay dealing with some of the more tough issues, should give this a shot.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Hereafter

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Hereafter
   *Series: Hereafter #1
Author: Tara Hudson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: Hardcover; 404
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who love a good love story, because this one bleeds right off the page and into your heart!

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life--or her actual death--she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but "will" him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Amelia is a spirit, lost in the mortal world. Destined to relive the night of her death over and over. Not exactly the most pleasant existence. That is, until the night that she happens to rescue Joshua.

I know that there are plenty of paranormal romance stories out there, but I'd be lying if I said that this one doesn't stand out. Amelia's character is so perfect. She's sweet and lost, but downright fierce when she needs to be. I loved watching her wake up from the fog and become more aware of herself as the story progressed. Amelia's story has the perfect balance between being utterly heartbreaking, and yet full of hope at the same time. It will tug at your heartstrings, that's for sure!

Then there is Joshua. Wonderful and persistent Joshua. Want a guy who manages to be adorable without even trying? Here's your man. Dead set on being a part of Amelia's afterlife, apparently whether she wants it or not, he holds his own. The banter between these two and the stolen moments of closeness were too sweet for words. There were times when it was just so honest. Sure, they may be from two different planes of existence, but that doesn't stop them from being a perfect match for one another. Be warned, swoon worthy moments ensue.

Lest you think that Hereafter is just a book filled with romance though, let me sate your need for action! As Amelia remembers more about her past, the book really picks up pace. Ghosts who are "unclaimed" are apparently a no-no in Tara Hudson's ghostly afterlife. This allows her to weave a wonderful romance that pits two very different worlds against one another. Amelia's life becomes a tug of war between the living, and the dead. I cannot say enough how much this added to the overall story! Love is great, but love that is fated to fail? Even more delicious.

Let's be honest, I could go on about Hereafter for hours. However I'll wrap it up with the fact that while this may not be a new concept, Tara Hudson takes a story that has been done before and still manages to put her own gorgeous twist on it. Amelia and Joshua will make your heart soar, and then have you rooting for their continued existence together. Couple that with some all out action, and you have a book that is well worth your time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moved in!

Hey there blog lovelies!

This is me letting you know that HDB is back up and running! If you were wondering where I've been the last few days, we moved. It was a little unexpected, but we found a great place and now things are pretty much set. I have internet again, so I promise to bombard you with awesome posts the remainder of the week :).

Thanks for sticking around.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: Seeds of Discovery

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Seeds of Discovery
   * Series: The Dusk Gate Chronicles #1
Author: Breeana Puttroff
Publisher: Musefish Independent Press
Pages: Paperback; 288
Release Date: September 16, 2011
Source: Lightning Promotion Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of note
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Fantasy readers who enjoy a fabulously written story line coupled with a gorgeous new world.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Quinn Robbins' life was everything she thought a teenager's should be. She has good friends, a family that she loves, good grades, and an after-school job she enjoys. And, she's just been asked out by Zander Cunningham, a popular football player and great guy. But one day when driving home after picking up her little sister from the baby-sitter's, she nearly hits a boy who, after running blindly into the street, mysteriously disappears.

The mystery only deepens as she figures out who the boy is; William Rose, a reclusive, awkward boy from school who always has his nose in a pile of books.

As she becomes more aware of his behavior it becomes more obvious how out of the ordinary William is and how hard he deliberately tries to blend into the background. This only intrigues her more and she finds herself working to find out more about him, and exactly where he keeps disappearing to.

On a whim one night she follows him and suddenly finds herself in a new world. One where William is a prince, literally, and she is treated like a princess. She also discovers that she is stuck; the gate back to her own world isn't always open.

Quinn finds herself smack in the middle of a modern-day fairy tale, on a course that will change her life forever.

Going in to Seeds of Discovery was like walking in to a blank room. I hadn't read the synopsis. I only knew that the book cover was gorgeous and it was Fantasy, so of course I'd read it. That was the best possible choice! I went in knowing nothing, and fell in love all the more for it. Let me start out by saying one simple word: immersive. This is the type of book that will grab you, pull you in, and lock you in the world that it builds around you.

Quinn Robbins is such a great character. She's sweet, just popular enough, and down to earth. She manages to be both bookish and a social person at the same time! Go figure that you can have both those qualities, right? From the very beginning I fell in love with her demeanor. Quinn is the type of girl that I saw a little bit of myself in, from all different facets. Following her is so enjoyable that it's easy to get lost in the story.

The other characters aren't overshadowed though. William, Thomas, and all the rest shine in their own way as well. Puttroff builds a cast of characters that makes it easy to see why Quinn becomes so torn near the end of the book. If I had to choose between two wonderful existences, I'm not sure which one I would choose either. William was especially wonderful. I liked the slow growth that he showed as he opened up to Quinn. These are characters who make it simple to fall in step with them. It really enhances the story.

As for pacing, overall Seeds of Discovery is extremely well done. It does start out a little slow admittedly. Mostly to build back story for what is to come. Once Quinn steps foot into the new world, everything changes. I know that sometimes it is tough as a reader to completely immerse yourself in the world that the author builds. For me, that wasn't the case here at all. When Quinn stepped foot into William's world, so did I. I could smell flowers and see buildings. Breeana Puttroff doesn't over-describe, but still manages to allow you to get the full effect.

I know this review is getting long, so I'll stop here! Minus a few small issues I had as a reader, I really fell head over heels in love with Seeds of Discovery. This just once again proves to me that just because a book is Indie doesn't mean it can't be amazing! Breeana Puttroff's book is the whole package. Beautifully written, easy to immerse yourself in, and a joy to read. Lovers of Fantasy novels, rejoice. This is one that you'll want to read again and again. The best part? There's more to the series! I can't wait.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

An Interview with Gwendolyn Heasley!

Today on the blog, Gwendolyn Heasly is here! You might know her from Where I Belong, her debut book last year. This year she has a new book coming out on June 5th, called A Long Way From You!

For too long, Kitsy has had to satisfy her dreams of becoming a real artist by giving her friends makeovers before prom. So when her best friend Corrinne's family offers to sponsor her for a summer art course in New York City, Kitsy bids a temporary good-bye to Texas to say hello to the West Village.

Between navigating the subway and the New Yorkers—namely, the Art Boy who has a nice trick of getting under her skin—Kitsy knows that this summer is going to be about a lot more than figure drawing.

Gwendolyn was kind enough to answer a few interview questions for me! Here's your chance to get to know a bit more about this amazing author. Don't forget to leave a comment for her.

1) Let's start with a bit about you! What three words would you choose to describe yourself, and why?

Generous, inquisitive, kind

2) Is there a vice you have that we should all know about?

A vice I want the entire World Wide Web to know about? Okay, I'll give you two: peanut butter out of the jar and chocolate in any form.

3) What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

The best part that after working so hard on something, you release into the world and finally get to hear others thoughts. I love hearing all opinions, good or bad, on my novels. It makes me feel connected and it's so fun how everyone reads differently. 

The other best part is the schedule. I teach in the fall and I'm also earning my MFA, so I'm busy but I still have a very flexible schedule. My schedule gives me great freedom and I'm grateful for it. 

4) In A Long Way From You, Kitsy gets an opportunity to travel far from home. Did you ever have an experience like that?

I grew up in Minnesota and went to North Carolina for college. It was a long way from anything I knew and it was great. I was introduced to a new part of the country and made lifelong friends. Also, I drank a lot of sweet tea, which I miss.

5) What message would you like to share with your readers?

I think the message in both of my novels is that life is an adventure and we should all look at as so. Explore. Make New Friends. Challenge yourself.

Gwendolyn Heasley is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Missouri-Columbia where she earned her master’s degree in journalism. When she was a little girl, she desperately wanted to be the next Ann M. Martin- the author of the beloved The Baby-Sitter’s Club series. She’s incredibly grateful that the recession rendered her unemployed and made her chase her nearly forgotten dream. She lives in New York City, teaches college and eats entirely too much mac and cheese for an adult. She’s also currently at work on her third novel for Harper Collins.


Monday, June 4, 2012

May Wrap Up

Another month down! I meant to post this on the first, but hey. You know how it goes. Best laid plans and all  of that.

This was a pretty great month of reading! A little slower than before, just because of the new job, but good nonetheless. Here's to hoping that you find something to love and add to your TBR!

(AB = Audio Book Review / JR = Joint Review)

Books reviewed in May:
The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa - Review (4/5)
(AB) Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1) by Moira Young - Review (5/5)
The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray - Review (4/5)
Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake - Review (5/5)
Fated by Alyson Noel - Review (3/5)
The Book Blogger's Cookbook by Christy Dorrity - Review (5/5)
Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham - Review(4/5)
The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) by Aimee Carter - Review (4/5)
Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter - Review (3/5)
Exiled by J.R. Wagner - Review (3/5)
A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang - Review (4/5)
The Guardian's of Elijah's Fire by Frank L. Cole - Review (4/5)

Total books reviewed in May: 12

Books read in May but not reviewed:
The Matchmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash - Review (4/5) - Cute and funny!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - Review (5/5) - LOVE this book. So good.
Rise and Fall by Joshua P. Simon - Review (4/5) - Long read, but very well written!

Total books read in 2012: 73
Goal Progress: 73 books out of 150 (48%)

Despite a bit of a slower month in reading, I did get a lot of reviewing done and also I hit my half way mark! I'm on track to finish my goal this year :). Here's hoping.

What did you read this year? Any books you just adored?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Book Review: Tomorrow Land

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Tomorrow Land
Author: Mari Mancusi
Publisher: NLA Digital
Pages: Ebook; 281
Release Date: March 8, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers looking for a zombie apocalypse story that has its own unique twists and turns.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Can true love survive the end of the world?

Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice--between her family--and Chris Parker, the boy she'd given her heart. Now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he's the only thing on her mind.

All Chris "Chase" Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgment day and she never showed--breaking his heart without ever telling him why.

Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones to a group of orphan children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk...and feed. As they begin their pilgramage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost--all while attempting to save what's left of the human race?

Tomorrow Land follows the lives of Peyton Anderson, a girl who has been trained to survive the impossible. A true "razor girl" Peyton is definitely the type of character that you wouldn't want to mess with. She's strong, she's tough, and she knows how to make things go her way if need be. Chris Parker is the other main character here. A sweet, kind boy who is trying to figure out his feelings for Peyton. The two of them set off on a wild ride, chaperoning a group of kids in an attempt to find safety from the walking dead.

That? That's the book in a nutshell. No kidding! The cover really does do the book justice, since the book centers around Peyton, her knife infused hands, and kicking some walking dead behind. I did like that Mancusi was very factual when she created the disease that ended the world. Since I'm already a fan of her writing style, I enjoyed seeing more of that in this book as well. However what really put me off more than anything were the copious amount of pop culture references. In all honesty, I like Mancusi's other series much better.

The pacing was a bit off. There is an unnatural clumping of events which makes the first third of the book slow, the middle amazing, and the end slow again.. For a group of kids wandering across a zombie infested wasteland, nothing much seems to happen. There are a few fight scenes, but again they are rather spaced out. On top of that the romance was aggravating for me. There is a lot of angst, random arguments, and even the times when they are being sweet to one another don't seem real at all. If it had simply been left out, I really think it wouldn't have mattered. Chris is sweet, but he's just not Peyton's kind of guy.

At the end of the day, Tomorrow Land was what I expected but didn't really deliver everything I hoped for. I love Mari Mancusi's writing as a general rule, I think that this particular book was just a miss for me. If you enjoy books that deal with a zombie infested apocalypse, this is one you might want to give a shot. Otherwise I'd highly recommend you check out Mancusi's other series as well!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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